Write Toward Your Unspecified Anxieties

Roxana Robinson

I don’t recall which author said it, but I’ve always remembered a very specific piece of writing advice:

Write about the things you can’t forget, the things that keep you up at night.

I take that to mean: write about scenes you can’t stop replaying in your head, write about the moments that still horrify and provoke you, write about the events where you’d like to dig a hole in the ground and disappear from the world in which they ever existed.

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Roxana Robinson discusses that impulse—to write toward your anxieties. She says:

All the fiction I write arises from the same sort of impulse: it’s a feeling of discomfort, a kind of unspecified anxiety, a need to uncover something that troubles and disturbs me. I write toward that feeling. I try to explain it to myself in order to disarm it, to rob it of its potency. I don’t know how this explanation will happen. I don’t know how the disarmament will take place, or what else will happen in the process.

Read Robinson’s full piece.

Also this month at Glimmer Train:

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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